Morgan: everything in education should be about the student, period

On January 19, 2018 Logan School Board member Connie Morgan made a surprise announcement that she would be leaving her post as District 4 representative. Morgan cited an upcoming move that would take her out of the district boundaries at the end of February. With only a few weeks left on the board, Morgan says everything she has ever tried to do as an educator or as a board member is to do what is in the best interest of the students.

And it was learned very early on in her teaching career.

Her first teaching job was at an inner-city school in Benton Harbor, Michigan during a time of civil unrest. The students led a walk-out in 1967 and her classroom was used as a look out by the FBI, state and local police. 

“One of the most important things that I learned was that everything is about all students, everything is about the student, period. We do not exist for any other reason than for the students, and that means all students.

“When the end of this particular strike was done, and the students came up and talked, it was so revealing about those who were left out. As we go into 2017-18, I still have that on my mind.”

Morgan says she often draws a diagram with the words “All Students” written in the middle of a circle. Underneath that it includes the words “Well-Being”, “Achievement”, and “Their Future”. 

“Everything goes around that: our resources, safety, transportation, teachers, everything,” Morgan explains. “Anything we do as a board has to go back to meeting the needs of all students, their well-being, their achievements and their future.”

She says teachers need to love students. She says it is important to enjoy the subject matter, but teachers need to love their students in order to succeed.

Now that she will be leaving the school district to move into a smaller apartment, she hopes to find a qualified candidate that will replace her in District 4.

“I’m glad I get to be a part of that,” says Morgan. “To me, that’s probably one of the most important things I’ll do over the last few board meetings that I go to. That individual will be coming in to an already-established group.”

Morgan says she enjoyed being able to bring a perspective of a classroom teacher to the board. She says it also helped her communicate to her teacher friends why the board was making its decisions on various topics. While it would be nice if a retired teacher took her seat, Morgan says, that qualification is not required.

“I really would hope there is a retired teacher out there, or a person who has been involved in the classroom, maybe someone who was really involved in the PTA, a reading assistant, a classroom aide,” Morgan explains. “I would hope some of those people would find it an interesting thing to apply for.

“It’s a perspective I think needs to be on the board, just as the perspective from all the other colleagues need to be on the board.”

When reflecting back on some of the bigger decisions that had to be made while she was a member of the school board, Morgan pointed to the process they underwent to choose a new superintendent. 

“The superintendent is the symbol, the leader, the curriculum, the director of everything that goes on in the schools…You need a superintendent that you respect and that you trust to take care of the day-to-day functions of the district. Then the board deals with governance and policy.”

She also defends the decisions made by the school board to auction off a few pieces of artwork from the district’s collection. As an artist herself, Morgan absolutely recognizes the value of having art accessible to students, but also recognizes the costs and liabilities of having some works of art in a school.

“As an artist myself, the thing that was hard for me to watch since I started at Logan High School in 1987,…seeing things that are missing, seeing the damage that was done, wads of gum on works of art worth $100,000.

“Do you hang a $200,000 piece of oil painting which is not going to have a piece of glass on it? Do you hang it in the hall where it will get pencil marks on it, gets gouged, where someone decides they want to add their own little mark on it, make it better, make it worse, sign their name, poke a hole in it?”

She says it is very difficult, time consuming and expensive for a school district to maintain such works of art.

“That large Minerva Teichert that is on display at the Capitol, there is no way we could afford to restore that with the marks on it or the holes that are in it,” she explains. “It needed a new frame, it needed to be cleaned.

“It would be interesting for people to see the before and the after. Then ask ourselves, ‘is that what we are supposed to be using our tax money for? Are we supposed to be using it to maintain and restore the artwork?’”

She says the board consulted art officials and published discussion items about the art in agendas. Some consultants wanted the district to sell all 42 works of art; instead, the district is auctioning off 11 pieces in a <a href=”” target=”_blank”>sealed-bid auction</a> that concludes at 12 noon on January 31.

Anyone wanting to replace Morgan on the Logan City School District will need to apply before 3 p.m. on February 6, 2018.

As far as what is next for Morgan?

“I don’t know?” she exclaims. 

She does plan to work on her artwork more often and get it in the public, and use more of her time to be a grandma.

“I’ll still be involved in education,” she adds. “I’ll watch what is going on. I’ll go to board meetings, I’ll express my opinion, I’ll vote. I won’t be a quiet, silent voice. I don’t think my voice is silenced by leaving the school board.”

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